This article was written by Lisa Miller.
Of the 30 fastest growing occupations from 2018-2028 revealed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18 are in healthcare and associated jobs.  In the face of a severe skills shortage, adopting a focus on employee engagement enhances patient care and leads to hospital cost reduction.
What’s driving the demand in the healthcare sector?
An aging population and rising numbers of people living with chronic disease are the key drivers behind this surge in demand. Vacancies for frontline staff, such as nurse practitioners, physician and medical assistants are expected to see rapid projected growth. To compound the problem, nursing has some of the highest attrition rates among staff in the US.
Retaining your key staff and ensuring exceptional patient care should be a priority for all healthcare providers. But when those leaders are facing urgent – and seemingly impossible – demands on their time and resources, employee engagement and retention can fall below the radar.
Neglecting this issue can have a detrimental effect on the patient experience in your hospital, reflect negatively on HCAHPS scores and ultimately, hospital revenue.
Focusing on employee engagement
Focusing on engaging your key staff must be a priority for your organization. For instance, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN can result in hospitals losing $4.4-$6.9 million at current rates of attrition (17.2%).
Below I offer four suggestions that will help your hospital to increase employee engagement levels, thereby enhancing patient care and saving your hospital money.
Recognition of your employees: The primary goal of all healthcare employees is to ensure the provision of exceptional care to patients to ensure quality outcomes.
In order to deliver that level of care, and find satisfaction and engagement in their work, your staff must feel appreciated. Research suggests that recognizing the contribution made by your employees drives engagement, but 45% of employees state that they haven’t been recognized at work in over six months. 
One way to facilitate this is the iSUGEZT app. Created by VIE Healthcare® Consulting, iSUGEZT can empower your hospital to improve both the patient experience and employee engagement levels by providing a platform for feedback in real-time.
Automate your processes: By investing in technology to automate key processes and identify key areas for non-labor cost savings the following benefits are realized:
- The risk of manual errors is eliminated.
- Unparalleled savings can be identified in key areas of spend, such as purchased services.
- Your most valuable resource – your people – can be offered more meaningful work which enhances their satisfaction and engagement.
Invite innovation: Research suggests that everyday employee innovation can save companies more than $110 million dollars in time, materials, labor or energy equating to an average of $1,256 per suggestion.
Listening to employee suggestions helps to implement a culture of ‘’Every Day Innovation.’’ By Every Day Innovation, I mean encouraging all of your employees to contribute suggestions for innovation and improvement across your organization.
Your frontline staff are the most equipped to understand the problems your hospital is dealing with. They interact with your patients and may hear negative feedback and are fully aware from their day-to-day work of what is working effectively in your hospital and what isn’t.
Creating a culture that supports innovation is essential. We recommend the following:
- Engage your entire organization.
- Embrace self-organization. Don’t implement systems that rely on just one central point to route or evaluate ideas.
- Begin with small suggestions that can be scaled.
- Start with ‘’friendly’’ innovation users across your health system.
- Focus on long-term change.
As an example, nursing staff can often suggest ideas for improvement in poor processes during the patient journey, help to support patient flow through your PACU and reduce the risk of readmissions.
Hire a healthcare consultant: Working with an experienced healthcare consultant can help your hospital to identify potential areas for cost reduction initiatives. This allows your employees to focus on other key areas such as delivering exceptional patient care. Choose an organization that knows your sector and has a proven track record in cost reduction initiatives in critical areas such as, purchased services spend, supply chain transformation, analysis of IT services and telecommunication expenses management. The expertise of VIE Healthcare has already saved healthcare systems across the US over $700 million.
If you’d like to explore this with thus, I encourage you to send me a message.